Important Employment Trends for the Health & Safety Professional

Safety Management took a look at a number of workplace trends from the past two years. Ranging from flexible working to zero hours contracts, these all have an impact on health & safety and our working lives.

At BIA UK we often work closely with health & safety professionals as musculoskeletal illness (MSK) forms such a large part of employee absence from work. Today we look at what other issues are affecting the role of the health & safety professional.

Vision Zero

Firstly the article talks of “vision zero”, an initiative designed to put a target of 0 incidents or injuries at work on health & safety professionals. Increasing numbers of companies are adopting this idea in a bid to keep their employees safe and it can be a key challenge for professionals working to achieve it. Websites such as openly share their target for 0 incidents and accidents.

Ageing Workforce

The HSE talks of our ageing workforce as more older workers both need and want to work past a certain age. This is now a key trend for those working in health & safety where additional considerations might include an increased likelihood of more serious injury from older workers if involved in an accident compared to younger workers, risk assessment reviews should these need to be adapted in any way and employee consultations to avoid any assumptions about older workers.

Additionally, it’s important to avoid making stereotypes about older workers too as these are often unfounded. Indeed, “62 per cent of over 50s describe themselves as feeling as fit as ever, with structural and (other people’s) attitudinal barriers thwarting their ability to stay involved [at work].”

Zero Hours Contracts

Whereas New Zealand has banned zero hours contracts, the Office of National Statistics has released data stating that the UK has more than 800,000 in force at the moment. The concern for healthy & safety professionals regarding this trend is that employers might take a view of diluted responsibility toward workplace risks.

Flexible Working

Flexible working continues to increase in popularity – with employees wanting this over and above any other perk. Employers are taking time to catch up though and there is considerable disparity between the number of individuals looking for flexible working and the number of positions offering this. This development is cited by Safety Management as having the potential to cause confusion among the profession.

Data and Digitalisation

Lastly, data is playing a growing part in the lives of professionals. Employee monitoring through devices that range from Fitbits to little black boxes under desks that measure occupancy levels needs to strike a delicate balance – promoting productivity rather than being invasive. The digitalisation of the workplace is another trend to consider as automation and AI affect our working day.

In addition to the above there is of course, consideration of the main two forms of sickness to recognise – MSKs and mental health of which the former can be treated effectively with occupational physiotherapy.

There’s a lot to consider in the wider world of employment for health & safety professionals working today – in addition to absence of course!

You can find out more about the effectiveness and ROI of occupational physiotherapy in treating absence by trying out our ROI calculator.